At moments like these, when everything is kind of awful, I find comfort in thinking about the ontological nature of time.
DON’T LEAVE; I’M GOING TO EXPLAIN IT!
There’s this theory in physics, sometimes called the “block universe model,” that time isn’t this ephemeral thing. That events don’t just happen and then disappear *poof* into the ether. Rather, all the moments of our lives, the universe, everything exist all at once. They’re always there, we just experience them one at a time in chronological succession (or something that our brains, pattern-making machines that they are, converts into a kind of linear narrative).
You can think of it like a filmstrip. The whole movie’s there, in the can, the beginning, middle and end. We see the frames one at a time as they pass in front of the projector, but the footage has already been filmed, processed, developed. The movie’s not changing. There’s suspense for us, the viewers, because we don’t yet know how it ends, but whatever that ending is, it’s already there. There’s no real suspense. Just a feeling.
Donald Trump is going to be president in 2017 and, according to the block universe model, he was always going to be president in 2017. The story was already laid out, frame by frame. There was never any hope for a Hillary presidency, not really. Just a feeling in our hearts, something we desperately tried to make real. We were conjuring ghosts that could never materialize.
There are moments in life that feel like hinges, like forks in roads, like diverging paths. Last night was one such moment. It felt like we were going to go into one reality, or another. When I went to bed around midnight, I knew I’d be waking up in a world where everything was different. I had hope that I’d wake to a new world of possibility and excitement, particularly for women and girls. That path felt so real to me; I was sure we were on it. I’d give anything for a glimmer of that feeling right now.
But the truth is, there was no fork. There was no other road. We were always going to walk to this point, watch for a second and then, when we saw there was no other choice, keep walking toward the inevitable.
Now that I’m saying it, it doesn’t sound comforting at all. It sounds pretty depressing, actually. I think why I find relief here is in knowing that we haven’t done something wrong that’s plunged us into a “dark Earth” version of our reality. We haven’t fallen onto the wrong timeline somehow. This is not a mistake.
Donald Trump will be president in 2017. This was always true, we just didn’t know it yet.
But the rest of the story is there, too. We’re still in the right universe, the only universe, our universe. It’s flawed and many of us are in pain and terrible things happen and you can never really know what growls inside your neighbors’ hearts. Things will keep on. The path has already been laid. The only thing to do now is keep walking.
The glow of the projector lights on everything in its proper time. There’s more ahead to see, to experience. There’s room for hope if it brings you joy, but you can leave your fear behind. The story’s already been written. The only adventure is in the discovery.
Barrelhouse Magazine’s Conversations & Connections writing conference is coming to Pittsburgh on October 18! This one-day conference is geared toward providing practical advice on writing and publishing to writers (or aspiring writers) in any stage of their career. I’m so excited that Why We Never Talk About Sugar will be the featured fiction collection at the conference!
Additionally, I’ll be participating in a panel on “Breaking In.” Myself and three other writers will talk about our literary firsts: our first submissions, our first publications, our first books, and, yes, even those first rejections. There are plenty of other panels on writing your character’s dark side, what editors love (and what they hate) and writing about place. Plus, the fantastic Roxane Gay is giving the keynote address!
From their website:
Want to write better? Want to get published? Attending pricey, academic-style, lecture-hall writer’s conferences won’t quite get you there, no matter how good the bagels are.
Here’s what will: a comfortable, congenial environment where you can meet other writers, editors and publishers. You need to speak with the people who make editorial decisions, as well as with others who are trying to perfect their craft, just like you.
You’ll find this at Conversations & Connections, a conference devoted to giving you practical advice on getting published.
There’s still time to be a part of this great event. Click here to read about the conference and everything you’ll get for the (very affordable) price of admission!
Because I just can’t help myself. And because these people are completely misunderstanding evolution.
1. “Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?”
2. “Are you scared of a Divine Creator?”
3. “Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature? i.e. trees created with rings… Adam created as an adult…”
9. “If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?”
10. “I believe in the Big Bang Theory… God said it and BANG it happened!”
11. “Why do evolutionists / secularists /huminists/ non-God believing people reject the idea of their being a Creator God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?”
12. “There is no in between… the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an ‘official proof’.”
13. “Does metamorphosis help support evolution?”
14. “If Evolution is a Theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact.”
15. “Because science by definition is a ‘theory’ – not testable, observable, nor repeatable [–] why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?”
16. “What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?”
17. “What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in Salvation?”
18. “Why have we found only 1 ‘Lucy’ when we have found more than 1 of everything else?”
19. “Can you believe in ‘the big bang’ without ‘faith’?”
20. “How can you look at the world and not believe someone created / thought of it? It’s Amazing!!!”
Today I’m vey proud to have essay up at The Rumpus, which consistently publishes the best non-fiction of any magazine or website I read. The piece is called “Birth Story” and it’s about birth stories in general, and one in particular. In many ways, it’s a follow-up to an essay of mine they published last year, “On Pregnancy and Privacy and Fear.” It’s fun for me to see these pieces listed together when you click on my name on the site. It reminds me how much of my life has changed in the last year and how much has stayed largely the same.
Here’s the opening of “Birth Story.” You can read the rest here.
The birth story must always start the same way: with a woman in pain. There’s no avoiding the pain. The pain is how you know it’s beginning. It’s the overture, the epigraph, the amuse-bouche. You sit up straight. You stand up. You walk around. You move as if the pain is something you can twist away from, like pulling your hand from a hot stove. But this pain is coming from inside. This pain is trying to twist away from you. But first it has to come through you. First it has to open you up.
Air Schooner, Prairie Schooner’s podcast series interviewed me about Why We Never Talk About Sugar and weird fiction. You can click hear to listen to me talk about how I discovered the secret truth hiding in the Pinocchio myth.
I will be making a couple of appearances at AWP this year. Here’s where I’ll be and when. Come say hi!
You can now pre-order my short story collection, Why We Never Talk About Sugar! Here’s the publisher’s description, which I love:
Get ready. These are not your mother’s bedtime stories. In this mesmerizing debut collection, Aubrey Hirsch will lead you into the darkest recesses of human life, where hope and longing and love and loss look all too much like one another. Each of these sixteen stories may be filled with its own kind of despair, but they are not despairing as Hirsch enters with deep sympathy into the souls of lonely women (Cheater, Hydrogen Event in a Bubble Chamber, Made in Indonesia), broken men (Leaving Seoul, Advice for Dealing with the Loss of a Beloved Pet), young recruits (The Specialists), and dutiful daughters (Strategy #13: Journal, No System for Blindness). With a hard intelligence, Hirsch considers the toll of heartache (Why We Never Talk About Sugar, Certainty) and loss (The Borovsky Circus Goes to Littlefield, Paradise Hardware) and the simple cost of longing. Taut and tension filled, these stories will transport you into the heart of what it means to be human. But be careful. Hirsch’s compassion arrives on a knife blade. And you just may find your own heart cut open.